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Juan Orlando Hernandez, Former President of Honduras Extradited to the US on Drug Trafficking Charges

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“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is accused of conspiring to allow the transportation of over 500,000 kilograms of cocaine through Honduras and into the US as well as multiple weapons charges.
The extradition to the United States of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was completed this Thursday with his transfer, handcuffed, to the Hernán Acosta Mejía Air Base, in the south of Tegucigalpa, from where he was taken on a plane to New York, to be prosecuted for three charges associated with drug trafficking.

The helicopter that transported Hernández to the Air Base took off around 11:30 a.m. local time (5:30 p.m. GMT) from a special unit of the National Police, where the former president had been held since February 15, 2022, when he was captured in front of his residence, one day after the US asked Honduras for his provisional arrest for extradition purposes.

Between 800 and 1,000 members of the National Police are participating in the “Liberation Operation” to extradite Hernández, under rigorous security measures, according to Security Minister Ramón Sabillón. Five minutes later, the FAH helicopter arrived at the Hernán Acosta Mejía Air Base, where Hernández was taken inside that military facility. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) plane that will take Hernández arrived at the Hernán Acosta Mejía Air Base around 12:00 local time (18:00 GMT).

Before his transfer, his wife, Ana García, released a video in which Hernández proclaims his innocence: “I am innocent, I have been and am being subjected to an unfair process.” 

“The truth is a liberating force when it is revealed. In my prayer, that of my family and that of thousands of Honduran families that the truth is revealed and prevails in my case,” said Hernández.

Hernández, 53 years old and who ruled between 2014 and 2022, today goes down in history as the first former president of the Central American country to be required by the United States and extradited to that country, to prosecute him for drug trafficking.

The United States accuses Hernández of three charges related to drug trafficking and the use of weapons to introduce drugs into that country, according to the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa on February 15. Then, the diplomatic legation indicated in a statement that “in total, since approximately 2004, the conspiracy transported more than approximately 500,000 kilograms of cocaine through Honduras to the United States.”

The first charge against Hernández brought by the United States is for “conspiracy to import a controlled substance” into that country, with the “knowledge that said substance would be illegally imported” into U.S. territory, “into waters at a distance of 12 miles from the coast of the United States. Additionally, he is charged with “manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance aboard an aircraft registered in the United States.”

The second charge is for “using or carrying firearms, or aiding and abetting the use, possession and possession” of “machine guns and destructive devices.” Count three refers to a “conspiracy to use or carry firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices, during and in connection with, or possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices, in support of the conspiracy to import narcotics,” according to the US indictment.

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